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Majoritarian StateHow Hindu Nationalism is Changing India$
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Angana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190078171

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190078171.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

Rohith Vemula’s Revolutionary Suicide

Rohith Vemula’s Revolutionary Suicide

(p.237) 12 Rohith Vemula’s Revolutionary Suicide
Majoritarian State

Abdul R. JanMohamed

Oxford University Press

Abdul R. JanMohamed approaches the 2016 suicide of Dalit scholar and leader Rohit Vemula in India through a viewpoint informed by the phenomenology of the ‘touch,’ as elaborated by Edmund Husserl, Jacques Derrida and by JanMohamed’s own work on the political economy of death in the formation of slavery. JanMohamed analyzes Vemula’s suicide note in the context of untouchability as akin to slavery, noting Vemula’s targeting by Hindutva affiliates and university and government leaders. The article discusses the crucial role of touching in a mythical scene of ‘anthropogenesis’, of the birth of the human as a self-conscious species, and argues that Vemula’s suicide constitutes a liberating embrace of his own political ontology, transforming his ‘social death’ into a ‘symbolic death’ that resonated throughout society, in effect endowing him with a form of immortality.

Keywords:   Rohit Vemula, Casteism, Slavery, Phenomenology, Political Economy of Death, Suicide, India

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